A Simple Explanation of Why Home Antigen Testing is Effective


  • Isolation based on COVID symptoms is helpful and important, but far from perfect.
  • Contagion can happen before symptoms or without symptoms.
  • An inaccurate test (say, 30% false negatives) is likely more accurate than isolating based on symptoms.
  • Cheap quick (15 min) antigen tests accurately detect contagiousness (often 95%+).
  • Governments should make emergency allowance for antigen tests that are authorised for clinical use to be used at home. This would be much better than isolation solely based on symptoms.

The Problem:

Government policy is for people to isolate at home if they have symptoms. However:

1. People are contagious before the onset of symptoms.

2. Not everyone isolates because not everyone gets strong enough symptoms.The isolation based on symptoms policy is helpful, but far from perfect. For every person isolating, there is likely at least one other person unknowingly spreading.

A Solution:

> Cheap (less than 10 euro each) antigen tests are already available that are already EU approved for clinical use.

> These tests are effective at detecting contagion and can catch cases that are missed if you wait for symptoms.

> These tests could easily be self administered to give a result within 15 minutes – you can see my demo video here: https://ronanmcgovern.com/2021/01/08/i-tried-out-a-covid-antigen-test-for-myself/.

Simply by issuing an emergency authorisation for self-use – the government could allow these tests to be sold and used in Ireland. This would be a big improvement over isolation based on symptoms.

Research backs this up. There are US studies from Harvard and Colorado Boulder (here) showing that cheap and quick home antigen tests can greatly slow down the spread of covid in a population.


Test sensitivity is secondary to frequency and turnaround time for COVID-19 screening. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/1/eabd5393/tab-pdf

Further Reading and Reference: www.RapidTests.org .

If you have concerns with the accuracy of any statements or arguments in this article, please e-mail me (you can do so by replying to my email when you subscribe) or by commenting below.

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